Nov 22, 2014

Former Red Headed / Pie Throwing Mets Utility Man: Justin Turner (2011-2013)

Justin Matthew Turner was born on November 23rd, 1984 in Long Beach California. The red headed six foot infielder attended California State University at Fullerton, getting named freshman All American by Baseball America.

He was named to the 2003 College World Series All Tournament team as a short stop. In 2005 he was drafted in the 25th round by the AL New York club but did not sign. He signed in 2006 with the Cincinnati Reds in the 6th round. Turner hit well in the minor leagues hitting .300 or better in five of six seasons.

In December of 2008 he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles along with Ryan Freel in exchange for Ramon Hernandez. He hit .300 at AAA Norfolk & and earned himself a September call up, debuting in Boston going 0-2 in a 10-0 loss to the Red Sox. 

In 2010 he began the year with the Orioles but was hitless in five games, he was demoted & placed on waivers. On May 25th he was picked up by the New York Mets.

With the Mets he batted .333 in 78 games at AAA Buffalo making an impression on a team with a lot of openings at the big league level. At the start of the 2011 season, Terry Collins gave Brad Eamus the starting second base job out of Spring Training.

After just 14 games he lost his position & was gone. Justin Turner began the year at AAA Buffalo where he hit .300 in ten games and was brought up to the replace Eamus. He took over the spot & was the clubs main second baseman through the year, as Daniel Murphy took over at first base in place of the injured Ike Davis.

On May 7th Turner came in the 8th inning as a pinch hitter of a tie game with the bases loaded. He singled off the Los Angeles Dodgers Matt Guerrier putting the Mets ahead for the win. On May 15th in the middle of an eight game hit streak, Turner drove in five runs with a three run HR & a two run double, leading the Mets to a 7-4 win over the Astros in Houston.

On May 19th his fourth inning RBI single was the only run of the game as he helped Dillon Gee to a 1-0 victory. The next day in the first matchup of the subway series with the cross town rivals, Turner drove in the first run of the game with a double off Freddy Garcia. Daniel Murphy would later hit a HR leading the Mets to a 2-1 win.

Turners incredible month of May had him drive in runs in seven straight games that week & then another six games closing out the month. He set a Mets Rookie Record with seven consecutive games with an RBI. 

He was also named the May NL Rookie of the month, becoming the first Met to win the award since it began in 2001. 

He stayed over the .300 mark into June before tailing off his hot hitting. On June 22nd, in an interleague game at Citi Field against the Oakland Athletics he singled in the 8th inning scoring Jose Reyes with the go ahead run. The A's tied it in the 9th but in the bottom of the inning Turner was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, which scored the winning run. In the month he drove in eleven runs & then in July added a ten game hit streak.

On August 6th Turner hit a pair of HRs driving in four runs against the Atlanta Braves in an 11-7 New York win. A month later on September 9th, he won another game with a ground rule double against Sean Marshall to beat the Chicago Cubs.

On September 22nd with the Mets down to the Cardinals 6-2 in the top of the 9th inning, Turner began a big Mets rally by walking with the bases loaded. He later came in to score the tying run on a Willie Harris base hit, as the Mets went on to an 8-6 win. On the year he played in 117 games batting .260 with four HRs 30 doubles 51 RBIs & a .334 on base %.

In 2012 Turner played more of a utility role, as Daniel Murphy took back over at second base. On April 26th Turner came to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning with the Mets down to the Florida Marlins 2-1 facing Heath Bell.

He drew a walk scoring David Wright with the tying run & the Mets won it on Kirk Nieuwenhuis' single.

He got to see more playing time when Ruben Tejada went down with injury, as he played shortstop in rotation with Jordanny Valdespin. Then Turner missed a month of action going on the DL from late May into late June. 

Trivia: The good natured fun loving Turner has always been known as the jokester in the Mets club house. Turner is the Mets main culprit at throwing a pie in the face of a player being interviewed after a good game played.

When Johan Santana threw the first no hitter in Mets history, it was Turner who gave Johan a pie in the face during the post game interview. It certainly did not seem the right time, after a history making moment to do something like that.

In June he doubled driving in two runs in the subway series helping the Mets to a much needed 6-4 win. At the All Star break he was batting .289 as the Mets finished off a successful first half of the season.

Their second half was nowhere near as good as they fell to fourth place. On August 25th he hit his first HR of the year & hit his second a month later at Citi Field in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 94 games he batted .269 with 2 HRs 13 doubles & 19 RBIs. The versatile Turner played at second base (14 games) first base (11 games) third base (11 games) & short (10 games).

In 2013 Turner proved once again to be a popular utility player for Terry Collins. Collins inserted the Red head into 23 games at third base, 18 games at short, 15 games at first base & 12 games at second base.

He saw a game at DH & a game in the outfield as well. In his first start of the year, he collected three hits & would have three different three hit games in April, finishing the month batting .368.

His hot hitting cooled off but he proved to be a steady player, until mid June when he would miss a month of action on the DL. On August 9th, he had a two hit, three RBI day against the D-backs in Arizona, although the Mets took a 5-4 loss.

On September 8th, he hit a solo HR at Cleveland in the Mets big 2-1 win over the Indians who were fighting for a wild card berth. Turner had five hits & four RBIs in that series.

He ended the year at .280 with 2 HRs 13 doubles 16 RBIs & a .319 on base %. In his five year career he is hitting .260 with 219 hits 8 HRs 57 doubles 89 RBIs & a .323 on base %.

In February of 2014 he signed on as a free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers, able to play closer to his home town. In L.A. he had a break through year, he played in 109 games due to injuries to Hanley Ramirez & Juan Uribe. Turner played 59 games at third base, 15 at short & 14 at second for the NL Western Champion Dodgers. Overall in 288 at bats he led the team in hitting while batting .340. Turner hit 7 HRs with 21 doubles 43 RBIs & posted a .404 on base %.

On June 26th, in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals, he came in as a pinch hitter in the 8th inning. Turner connected for a base hit off Adam Wainwright scoring Juan Uribe with the only run of a 1-0 Dodger win. 

On August 21st his two run HR led the Dodgers to a 2-1 win over the San Diego Padres, giving Clayton Kershaw his 15th win of the year. On September 23rd, Turner hit a bottom of the 8th inning HR off the San Francisco Giants; Madison Bumgarner, breaking a 2-2 tie & winning an important pennant race game. 

In his first post season, he appeared in two games of the NLDS loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, going 0-2. 

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